Dubai welcomed 4.1 million overnight visitors in the first three months of 2016, a 5.1 percent increase over the same period last year, official figures showed on Monday.
The increase was backed by strong double digit growth from its top two proximity markets, the GCC and India, according to figures released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
The GCC continued to be the destination’s leading feeder region, delivering 25 percent of all overnight visitation to Dubai in the first quarter.
Visitors from Saudi Arabia grew 14 percent to 476,000 from January to March in 2016, making it the number one source country, followed by strong growth from Oman, which increased by 32 percent over the same period in 2015 with 322,000 visitors.
Kuwait, which remained in the top 10 with 119,000 visitors, and Qatar, which saw 26 percent spike in visitor volumes, rounded off the high performing regional traffic with strong contributions.
The subcontinent also remained a key driver of tourism volumes with India growing at 17 percent in the opening quarter to deliver 467,000 overnight visitors, making it the second largest feeder country, followed by Pakistan within the region, which swelled by 18 percent over the same period.
Despite challenging global market conditions, and a strong US dollar, visitors from Western Europe continued to be second largest source region with a 23 percent visitor share overall in the opening quarter of 2016.
This was led by 10 percent year-on-year quarter growth from the United Kingdom, which remained Dubai’s third largest country contributor with 334,000 visitors.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism, said: “Global travel in the first three months of this year has been impacted by geo-political, social and economic uncertainties, with most markets experiencing flat to negative growth. I see Dubai’s highly agile, fragmented source market approach, the strength of our government, public and private sector partnerships, as well as our effective promotional and marketing outreach, as having been fundamental to fuelling overall growth.
“Markets within the four hour flight path, specifically the GCC and India, remain a critical focus for our on-going visitation attraction efforts as build towards our growth targets.”
Dubai’s accommodation portfolio also saw growth with 676 establishments in operation as of March 2016, representing 98,949 rooms across all hotel and hotel apartment categories.
Almarri added: “Tourism-related infrastructure and capacity enhancement investment is expected to accelerate during 2016 through more segment-specific offerings such as culture and heritage attractions and family-oriented theme parks, in addition to continued focus on enhancing the business environment that underscores Dubai’s pursuit of becoming the number one destination for travel, business and events.
“Dubai will be steadily implementing projects to develop, enhance and promote the core pillars of Dubai’s destination offering that in turn feed into the agenda to not just attract more volumes but to further the sector’s growing contribution to the emirate’s GDP, and be a source of sustainable competitiveness for future growth.”